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Do you feel the urge to tidy up?

Do you find that there are times when you have a more difficult time walking by a mess without screaming orders for someone to clean up their stuff (again!) or sighing heavily, maybe muttering a few choice words under your breath, and dealing with the untidiness yourself? I have been challenging myself to walk by more than I would have in the past. I think to myself, “there’s no harm here”.

No harm here

It has always been interesting to me how we keep our spaces tidy. Some spaces are tidy, but definitely dusty or smelly. Other areas are a mess but shine and smell fine. I think most of us have an area where we let our hair down and allow ourselves to not fuss. Maybe this is our free zone. Free of judging ourselves on what we’ve got going on there that we aren’t proud of, yet we tell ourselves it’s normal to have one junk drawer or one closet that you don’t open. If you have half of a house or more of space that you don’t venture to or tell others to stay away from, then there is probably a bigger issue at hand. For the majority of us – we find a balance of what we are comfortable with in our surroundings. As long as there is nothing dangerous or unsightly in the open – we can decide how much we are going to fuss to satisfy our sense of orderliness.

Let’s talk about Marie

By this point most of the world has heard about Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing or her television show Tidying up with Marie Kondo.   A couple of Christmas’ ago, I asked for this book.  I received two copies that Christmas.  I guess I needed double the tidying up in my life! 😉   I enjoyed the short read and found it more of an exercise in mindfulness, being present, and paying attention to my internal states more than anything.  Sure, I plowed through my wardrobe and definitely organized my cabinets and drawers in a new way – but really, why I found it so powerful was because she really addressed the emotional connection we have to stuff. 

Respect your possessions

Marie is a smart cookie and she knows that purging your stuff and actually downsizing a great deal, only surrounding yourself in items that actually bring you joy, is a tough pill to swallow. Many people never really consider why they surround themselves with the things they do or why they continue to hold on to things that no longer serve a purpose. I loved her exercises and how it required me to actually sit and observe what was being stirred up in me when I would hold a piece of clothing or item. Quite an unconventional way to do your spring cleaning, but definitely effective. The fact that Marie has seen so much success with this process and that people actually use her name as a verb – “I’m going to Marie Kondo my closet/office/basement” is a testament to the value she has provided people through her tidiness technique. If you haven’t yet, give it a try. You’ll be treating your socks and stockings with respect in no time.

Everything in life is borrowed

Toward the end of the book, Marie talks about how our living space affects our bodies.  She states, “it’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially “detox” our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well.”  When I read the book I was not seeking a way to lose weight or increase my radiance at all, but how are those for added benefits to straightening up and ridding yourself of anything that no longer serves a purpose or sparks joy? She mentions that if you keep something longer than necessary, you are dishonoring it.  When we say goodbye and let go of the items that are no longer needed, we appreciate them for what they provided us in the time that they did. There comes a time when you give gratitude and then let go.  Such wisdom.  Everything in this life is borrowed.  We will not take any of it with us when we pass from this existence.  Everything changes and everything is temporary.

That spark of joy

After going through this major cleanse, I have kept up with the orderliness of my closet as Marie outlines. Other areas of my house are more difficult, but I do remind myself to consider what it is that I’m choosing to keep, purchase, or dispose of with heartfelt consideration for its place in my space. On a day to day basis, the tidying up is manageable. The mess that I am challenging myself to let go of now is that which my children make. Each of us in the house has clean up responsibilities to respect our living quarters, yet maybe it’s being a mom, a wife, or a woman, but I seem to notice more than anyone else when pillows litter the living room floor, debris has been left under the kitchen table, and a general stickiness lurks on the kitchen island. Popsicle anyone? I know that I could work extra hard and make my kitchen squeaky clean each night and scrub the floor until it gleams and resent this never-ending exertion, or I can decide that it’s good enough. If I’m not walking on a crunchy floor, cutting myself on broken glass or smelling the decay of food, I think we’re doing pretty good.

When you look around, are you keeping close that which matters and inspires a deep sense of joy? Undoubtedly messes will occur and our energy will wax and wane, but the day-to-day messiness is just that – part of the day – nothing more and nothing less.

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